Over the last few decades, anal gland problems have been a pain in the butt for both dogs and cats. Although dogs are more often troubled by this condition, cats can also be affected.

Anal gland disease can range from an occasional butt scoot to painful and chronic conditions that ultimately end in surgery. Let’s take a better look at this problem and why conventional veterinarians so often struggle with it.

What Are Anal Glands?

First of all let’s be clear on what the anal glands or anal sacs are. Technically, the anal glands aren’t glands at all. Each one is lined with oil and sweat glands but the anal glands or sacs themselves are small little receptacles of foul smelling liquid, not unlike those found in the skunk. There are two anal glands and they are each located ventral to the anal opening, at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. The glands can spontaneously empty when stool is passed or under times of stress. When the glands express, they can create a very sudden, unpleasant change in the odor of the dog.

Why Pets Suffer From Anal Gland Issues

While most dogs do just fine, some research shows that 12% will have issues with their anal glands.

Although anal glands are meant to empty as stools are passed, this doesn’t happen with all dogs and over time, the anal glands fill up and can become inflamed and painful.

You’ll notice your dog’s discomfort and you’ll see him …

  • dragging his bum on the ground (appropriately called scooting)
  • licking or biting at it
  • sitting uncomfortably
  • having difficulty sitting or standing
  • or even chasing his tail

As long as the ducts in the anal glands are open and the consistency of the discharge is liquid enough, dogs will have no issues. But over time, chronic disease can create a blockage in the ducts and anal gland issues become an acute manifestation of that chronic disease.

What can cause this imbalance?

The main suspects are drugs and chemicals, poor nutrition and vaccines. The body tries to eliminate these toxins through the skin, the liver and even the anal glands.

The anal glands and their ducts can swell shut or their discharge can become so thick it cannot pass.

Removing the glands is an option, but is the worst possible thing you can do. It can cause permanent damage to the anal sphincter and hinder the body’s ability to cleanse itself. Toxins that would normally be secreted through the anal glands are now driven deeper into the animal’s body causing further health issues.

Dealing With Anal Gland Problems

The first step toward long term success is to work with a holistic veterinarian who understands chronic disease and has experience dealing with it. This typically means he will recommend treatment options that don’t include drugs, chemicals or surgery.

ABC’s To Optimum Health

You can make your holistic vet’s job easier by following my ABC’s to optimum health.


Stop using drugs, chemicals and vaccines. Period.


Build and strengthen those organs or organ systems that are not functioning optimally. This means providing fresh, wholesome foods and using gentle medicines and supplements like my favorites; homeopathy, gemmotherapy, aromatherapy and colostrum.


Even if you do everything right, the world is a toxic place. When problems occur, it’s important to help the body to cleanse. Periodic detoxing is also an important maintenance program for the body. I like to also use gemmotherapy, aromatherapy and colostrum to cleanse.

If you follow my ABCs, it’s extremely unlikely your pet will ever have anal gland problems. If your pet has existing issues however, there are a few things you can to to help in the short term – but make sure you still follow the ABCs.

Natural Remedies


You can help relieve anal gland problems by making a warm compress with warm salt water.

  • Put a teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of warm water.
  • Add 8 drops of Calendula tincture to the mixture.
  • Pour it onto a cloth and hold it against the inflamed area until it feels cool to the touch.
  • Repeat the process every hour until the swelling goes down or until the glands open and drain.


  • Silica 30C is very good at pushing things out of the body that don’t belong.
  • Hepar sulph 30C is a second choice if there is a great deal of pain.

Also, let your dog or cat lick the area as much as he wants to help with the healing process.

Keep in mind that anal gland disease is not a standalone diagnosis. View it as a red flag that your friend is toxic and needs a little help getting squeaky clean again. That’s the holistic view of anal gland problems.

*Excerpt from Dogs Naturally Magazine, January-February 2014 issue